Wednesday, July 1 to Friday, July 3 Scilla to Lefkas
We woke up at 06:30 am to start preparing for departure and were on our way shortly after 07:00, leaving Scilla behind as the sun was rising on the old town buildings. We made our way through the Messina Strait along the toe of the “boot of Italy” and once clear of the corner followed it up to the northeast then eventually set our course for 079 degrees, bound for Vasiliki, Greece.
Crossing the Ionian Sea would require two nights at sea and from about noon onwards we settled into our two-hour shift routine. It was difficult napping during the day when my body wasn’t quite ready for it but but late evening I was able to sleep during my breaks. There wasn’t enough wind for us to sail without power from the engine and we also had to have intentional periods of running the engine just to keep our batteries charged.
I kept myself alert and awake through the night with tea and snacks. Two hours at the helm in the middle of the night wasn’t too hard, especially with the consistent rests throughout the day. It was certainly easier than our crossing from Sardinia to Sicily when the waters were much rougher. The entire first day my mind raced with ideas of all kinds of plans and to-do lists for when I get back to Dubai. I wrote down the ideas before taking my naps and revisited them during other periods at the helm while on watch. I would also sing to myself to help pass the time and prevent drowsiness from setting in. There were times during the night with just the moon to keep me company and I’d find myself feeling a bit lonely thinking about family and friends. But the night sailing is quite enjoyable. It’s an incredible experience to be on the open sea, with no other boats or land in sight, putting your trust in the vessel carrying you across the water.
The sunsets were gorgeous and at night the moon was near full, providing plenty of light on our way. On our eastbound track the sun would rise in front of us. As we neared Greece and I could see the faint outline of the island mountains in the distance in the morning light and low sea fog, and I watched the beautiful sunrise, hearing Yanni’s music playing in my head, his piece “After The Sunrise”. The view was incredible, and I think I now understand his inspiration for the song. Have a listen here:
Closer to Vasiliki we chose to alter course and continue on sailing another half day, north to a place called Lefkas. The trip was long; three days & two nights at sea. The coastline of Lefkada Island was spectacular. Mountains rising from the sea with attractive beaches. We didn’t expect much from Lefkas but it is actually a pretty cool town. The reason for choosing it as the destination is because there are some chandlers here who should have the boat parts we require. We got to the chandler before they closed and were able to get two new batteries to replace the old ones aboard. I carried them over to the boat and took the old ones back.
Not long afterwards it was time to find dinner. After our long journey this was going to be great—my first meal in Greece! I wanted to eat some traditional Greek food. We found a nice place to eat on the patio along the quay. They brought us fresh bread along with a plate of the best tzatziki I’ve ever had. As my starter I ordered the grilled halloumi cheese stacked with grilled tomatoes and pita bread. I followed it with the “Greek Dish for 1 Person” which had an arrangement of moussaka, stuffed tomato, fries, and a little stewed meat. It was exactly what I was hoping for. Ross had ordered a lamb dish which came to the table as it had been cooked, in a paper bag. It certainly looked out of the ordinary but once opened appeared quite tasty; he enjoyed it.
In the evening I explored the town finding plenty of lively activity. In the town square there was a musician peforming, in support of Greece staying in the European Union. They had the live news/vote updates on TV screens beside him. All the restaurants were buzzing with people. I walked around admiring all the shops, cafés, restaurants, even a dance school was putting on a ballet recital on an outdoor stage, it was great! Crisis? What crisis? It’s not all doom & gloom as perhaps the news portrays back home. Yes, there are people in lines at the ATM as the Greeks are limited to withdrawing €60/day but the same rule doesn’t apply to international bank accounts as I tested upon arrival. I’ve met some people who are in support of Greece staying with the EU and met others that think they’ll be better off independent. We’ll see what happens…